“Isn’t this place beautiful at night?” Michael whispered into the dark mist of air that surrounded him.
“Brings a tear to my eye” laughed Ashton
“Shut up” he mumbled, dragging his guitar case off the tour bus.
“I’m surprised the fans aren’t outside” said Luke “they’re usually screaming by now”
“Maybe that’s because we didn’t actually announce that we were coming to this hotel” Ashton put in
“You have a point, but when has that ever stopped them?”
“Well I’m too tired for pictures and signings anyway” Michael grumbled “where’s the pizza?”
“Mikey, we have literally just arrived can’t you hang on for five minutes whilst we get our stuff inside?” Luke said grumpily
“Luke, you’re an asshole”
“Anyone seen Calum?” Ashton interrupted
“He’s probably already getting food” grimaced Mikey
“Will you ever stop thinking about your stomach before anything else?” Luke began
“Depends what that something else is” he shrugged
The three of them wandered inside the hotel to their own private suite where Calum was already unpacking his stuff.
“Hi guys!” he cried cheerfully
“Hey Calum” they blankly responded
“Why does Michaels face look like a slapped arse?”
“Why do you think?” Luke replied
“I’m going to get some air and some food, meanwhile you guys can stay here starving for all I care”
As Mikey slammed the door, the other three boys glanced around at each other warily.
“What’s up with him?” Calum quizzed
“Who knows, probably that time of the month or something” laughed Ashton.
Michael Clifford pulled his leather jacket tighter as he ventured out into the freezing cold wasteland. Several buses and taxis passed him obliviously and, as of yet, no one had seemed to recognise him. Pulling his hood up over his green hair, he thrust his hands into his pockets whilst inhaling the cool breeze that slipped down his neck. The guys were only messing with him, but he was just in the wrong mood today, he just wasn’t sure why. Perhaps the vexatious travelling had made him weary and moody, but whatever it was he needed to walk it off. Strolling around the strangely people-infused streets, he entered a back alley that led to some unsanitary looking shops with fluorescent lights hung, prostrated, scintillating wildly under the full moon. Cautiously, Michael went to turn back off as this street could quite easily produce a problem for him when his eye suddenly caught a store called ‘!Rock Out¡’. A sign in the window read ‘buy the hottest rock records of all time, obscure rock records and more, or simply rock out on the dance floor!’ Whatever kind of place it was, it intrigued him, so Mikey went on in. The strong smell of age filled the air, along with fumes he didn’t recognise.
“Hey” said the guy behind the counter, Mikey responded with a simple nod and began sifting through the rows of records. The punk rock melodies of an old Ramones track rang out in the beautiful seventies style. The alluring sounds of guitar solos whistled their way through Mikey’s ears as a bout of steam scurried briefly through the arch to a back room.
“May I?” he asked
“You’ve never been here before, have you kid?” the guy questioned
“You sound foreign, where you from?”
“That’d be why then, what brings you here?”
“Just, you know, stuff”
The guy narrowed his eyes and leant over the counter, the denim in his jacket rolled over with a hunk of flesh.
“Listen” he said “I’d be careful down here, you’ve gotta have your wits about you.” He grinned a yellow-stained toothy grin and laughed a throaty laugh that rapidly turned into a slight cough. “I wouldn’t go in there either, pretty boys like you aren’t best welcome.” Michael pulled down his hood and undid his jacket, revealing his bright green hair, piercings and Def Leppard t-shirt.
“I think I’ll be fine” he said bitterly. The man looked slightly taken aback, but still clearly he was not recognised as Michael Clifford from 5 Seconds Of Summer, he was just another customer to torment.
“Say kid, what’s your name?” at this point, he could be anybody to these people.
“Alex” he lied
“Bob” the guy said. A loud smash of glass came from the next room and the sound of dancing footsteps stopped abruptly. Bob’s head turned quickly to the arch. “Excuse me” he said, waddling off through the doorway. The dizzying guitar solos had stopped and Bob’s voice could be heard questioning as to what was going on. Michael glared around the now empty room, his feet lightly scraping on the black and white chequered floor impatiently. Rows of Vinyl’s littered the shelves in a frenzy of colours that screamed out for attention. He should probably head back out soon, waiting for Bob could be like waiting forever and he didn’t want to get caught in the storm of people that were bound to burst through the arch at any minute. So he scarcely hauled his hood back up, zipped up his jacket and made his way out of the malodorous building. At a quick pace he covered metres in seconds, occasionally glancing back, when suddenly he knocked into something. A girl probably around his age was sprawled on the floor, breathing heavily.
“Oh shit!” Michael exclaimed “I’m so sorry, are you okay?” he said helping her up
“Yeah I think so. Sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going”
The girl brushed off gravel from her now vaguely ripped tights, blood oozed out of a cut on her knee and her beanie was now half hanging off her head. Her dark brown hair rippled in waves across her shoulders and her eyes gleamed innocently. Michael glanced down at her cut with wide eyes.
“Oh it’s nothing, don’t worry about it”
“It looks pretty bad”
“Oh believe me, I’ve had worse” she blushed with what was seemingly an internal joke.
“Let me walk you home”
“Why would you do that?”
“From what I here, the guys round here wouldn’t necessarily do the same as I did if a pretty girl like you got knocked down”
“Funny, but I don’t even know your name”
He thought about lying again, but the girl didn’t even seem to recognise him...he could be Alex...or he could be himself.
“Alex Gordon” he lied again “What’s yours?”
“Julia-Blu Hartford, nice to meet a guy like you down here when I could’ve met someone else, but for all I know you could still be a creep. You don’t even sound like you’re from round here.”
“That’s ‘cause I’m not” they began to walk back to Blu’s house.
“Then where are you from?”
“And what brings you here anyway, it’s cold, rainy, wet and dark all the time?”
“You know, stuff, this and that. Nothing really, I’m just here with a few mates.”
“Oh, I see”
“So what about you?”
“I live here, duh”
“Well yeah, but what’s your story Julia-Blu.”
“I don’t know, but it's coming to an end”
“You make no sense”
“Neither does walking a stranger home, but I’ve learnt to accept it.” They arrived at Blu’s hill.
“Okay, this is it”
“This is a park”
“You think I’d let a stranger walk me all the way to my door? Even I’m not that Dumb.”
“Smart move, will I ever see you again Julia-Blu Hartford?”
“Who knows? Goodbye, Alex Gordon”
She began to spin round and walk away to her own reality. Michael took down his hood and called after her.
“You know, that’s not my real name!”
She turned back round to catch a glimpse of the figure revealed in front of her.
“Then what is it, stranger?” she called back. Unsure whether she recognised him or not, he told her the truth.
“Michael Clifford!” Now sure she knew nothing about him as not even a hint of recognition crossed her face, he felt at ease. He could truly be himself and not what people expected.
“See you round, Michael Clifford.”